Look­ing for things to do in this Ger­man city? Just fol­low your nose


When your child­hood mem­o­ries in­clude buy­ing 4711 gift packs for Mother’s Day, there’s one shop in Cologne that is more ex­cit­ing than oth­ers. As I walked into 4711’s flag­ship store, my brain did a lit­tle flip in celebration of a fra­grance that I hadn’t smelt in years.

Hun­dreds of bot­tles gleamed on the shelves and, in the cor­ner of the store a group of monks was fresh­en­ing up with 4711 that flowed freely from a tap into a golden bowl be­low.

To me, 4711 had al­ways been a scent from the ’70s but up­stairs in the mu­seum I soon dis­cov­ered more than 200 years of his­tory.

I may re­mem­ber when Calvin Klein’s CK One was hailed as a ground­break­ing unisex fra­grance, but 4711 was a unisex fra­grance back in 1792. It was also a health drink.

While we don’t rec­om­mend try­ing it now, the orig­i­nal 4711 was used in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally, and peo­ple would ei­ther drink it straight or mix it with a lit­tle wine as well as splash­ing it on their body. It was only when Napoleon de­cided all medicine recipes had to be re­vealed in 1810 that it be­came solely a fra­grance when the owner, Wil­helm Muel­hens, re­fused to share his se­cret recipe.

In­side glass cab­i­nets old long, green 4711 bot­tles give way to the first clear bot­tles with blue and gold la­bels, and I’m sur­prised to see how lit­tle has changed in the bot­tle’s de­sign since 1820.

As I move around the mu­seum, I find 4711 caused a scan­dal or two with its ad­ver­tis­ing, with posters from the 1920s show­ing scant­ily clad women par­ty­ing the night away. Well, un­til the Arch­bishop of the time had the posters taken down.

Strangely, I couldn’t see any ref­er­ence to Sher­bet’s “It Gets You Go­ing” 4711 ads in Australia, but I did learn that the fra­grance also lays claim to the first Ger­man TV ad in colour.

4711 is named after the street num­ber where the fra­grance be­gan, and in 1943 the orig­i­nal store was dev­as­tated in Al­lied car­pet-bomb­ing. In 1964, the re­built head­quar­ters and store at Glock­en­gasse No. 4711 opened its doors, and from June un­til De­cem­ber 2017 the store will be ren­o­vated.

Fra­grance lovers trav­el­ling to Cologne for the rest of this year can still visit 4711’s spe­cial pop up store, as well as the mu­seum based around that other fa­mous cologne from Cologne, Eau De Cologne.

That Fra­grance Mu­seum (Duft­mu­seum) can only be vis­ited on guided tours, which sell out in ad­vance so it’s best to book ahead. (fa­rina-haus.de)

Of course, while we may think fra­grance when we hear the word Cologne, there is more to this 2000year-old city. Here are some other top things to do.


One of Ger­many’s most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions, Cologne Cathe­dral at­tracts more than six mil­lion vis­i­tors a year and is con­sid­ered a mas­ter­piece of Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture.

It took 632 years to com­plete and, when it was fi­nally fin­ished in 1880, it was the tallest build­ing in the world. Well, un­til the Washington Mon­u­ment took the crown four years later.

The cathe­dral still has the world’s tallest dual spires and those who climb the 533 steps are re­warded with panoramic views of the city and be­yond.

Down­stairs, the stained glass win­dows, carved choir stalls and 14th­cen­tury paint­ings are worth a visit.

There are also 12 Ro­manesque churches within the city’s me­dieval walls, in­clud­ing St Ur­sula where hu­man bones dec­o­rate the walls, while skull relics are on dis­play in carved golden boxes in the macabre Golden Cham­ber.


Whether you love art, his­tory, sport or cho­co­late, Cologne has a mu­seum for you.

The Lud­wig Mu­seum has the big­gest pop art col­lec­tion out­side the US in­clud­ing works by Roy Licht­en­stein and Andy Warhol, as well as the world’s third-largest Pi­casso col­lec­tion.

The Ro­mano-Ger­manic Mu­seum is built over a Ro­man villa and vis­i­tors can see a large Diony­sus mo­saic in its orig­i­nal place in the base­ment. The Mu­seum of East Asian Art has one of the most im­por­tant col­lec­tions of Chi­nese, Korean and Ja­panese art in Europe, while the Wall­raf-RichartzMu­seum shares fine art from me­dieval times to the 20th cen­tury.

At the Cho­co­late Mu­seum you can­not only look, you can touch and


taste as you dip waf­fles into a 3m-high cho­co­late foun­tain, while tak­ing in 3000 years of cho­co­late his­tory.

And over at the Ger­man Sports and Olympic Mu­seum you can see dis­plays on ev­ery­thing from the orig­i­nal Olympic Games to skate­board­ing and BMXing. There’s also a chance to feel what it’s like to hit Tour de France speeds on a rac­ing bike when you take a ride in a wind tun­nel.


With some of the best shop­ping in Ger­many, Cologne of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to get a lit­tle shop­ping car­dio into your day.

The first pedes­tri­anised shop­ping street in Ger­many, Hohe Strasse, and neigh­bour­ing Schilder­gasse are two of the most pop­u­lar shop­ping streets, while lux­ury brands can be found along Mit­tel­strasse.

Mean­while, the Bel­gian Quar­ter is where young and up­com­ing de­sign­ers are shar­ing their wares. Here, the streets are named after cities and re­gions in Bel­gium, and there are in­ter­est­ing cafes, bars and restau­rants to refuel in.

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